The Inmates Get Thinner And The Sheriff's Bank Account Gets Fatter

Here’s a grim economics lesson: In Alabama, there’s a law that allows the Sheriff to keep any money that’s left over after feeding the prisoners in the county jail. Can you guess what the result of this conflict of interest might be?

From the NYT:

The prisoners in the Morgan County jail here were always hungry. The sheriff, meanwhile, was getting a little richer. Alabama law allowed it: the chief lawman could go light on prisoners’ meals and pocket the leftover change.

And that is just what the sheriff, Greg Bartlett, did, to the tune of $212,000 over the last three years, despite a state food allowance of only $1.75 per prisoner per day.

A typical breakfast was a few spoonfuls of grits, part of an egg and a piece of toast. If the prisoners wanted more food, they had to pay for it in the jail’s store. Prisoners with no money got thinner… and thinner… while other prisoners spent as much as $100 a week on food.

The NYT says that the sheriff was jailed until he could come up with a plan to feed the prisoners more — and he did. He says he will no longer keep the money for himself and will spend it all on food.

And that’s why it’s important to try to avoid conflicts of interest… right, Wall Street?

As His Inmates Grew Thinner, a Sheriff’s Wallet Grew Fatter [NYT] (Thanks, J!)
(Photo: malgaze )